Finding Community Resilience After Disaster Using Heroic Improvisation Games

By May 18, 2016Case Studies

The workshop focused on how to help Super-Typhoon Haiyan survivors to view their recent experience through a heroic lens and self-assess how ready they would be for the next disaster.

Project Category:  

Community Resilience After Natural Disaster

Project Purpose:  

To help disaster survivors prepare together for the next typhoon, which occurred a little over a year later.

Project Leaders:

Gabe Mercado, Third World Improv, Manila, Philippines; Mary Tyszkiewicz, Heroic Improvisation, Washington, D.C.

Project Participants:

Super-Typhoon Haiyan survivors in Tacloban (young business entrepreneurs) and Tanauan, (teachers and citizens), Leyte Region, the Philippines.

Project Duration:

February 28 – March 1,2014

Project Description:

We adapted the Heroic Improvisation workshop to help disaster survivors of Super-Typhoon Haiyan.  After just over 100 days since the November 2013 landfall of Typhoon Haiyan, the disaster was fresh in the minds of participants.  The workshop focused on how to view their recent experience through a heroic lens and self-assess how ready they would be for the next disaster.  We omitted simulations and instead let the participants tell their actual stories of survival in the Super-Typhoon.

As we played games related to each of the 5-steps of the Heroic Improvisation Cycle (see below), the survivors told us how they used these abilities to rapidly rescue themselves and others, during the rapid flood after the high-winds of the Super-Typhoon.

5-Step Heroic Improvisation Cycle (HIC)

The Heroic Improvisation Cycle and workshop transcend language. We ran the workshop in the Philippines using English, Tagalong, the Manila-area language and Waray, the local language in Central Philippines most impacted by the Super-Typhoon.

Project Benefits:

The disaster survivors provided the most dramatic outcomes.  The workshop allowed survivors to uncover their own heroism through their own experience by having them tell emotionally poignant stories of their survival.  For each Heroic Improvisation Cycle step and game, they offered us examples from their own Super-Typhoon story.  The survivors were surprised to know they used these steps and held improvisation abilities as they told their stories of how they survived the typhoon winds and storm-surge flood.

Super-Typhoon survivors made choices together in an impossible-to-imagine storm to save their lives and the lives of others.  They saw that they took actions together that helped them find solutions.  The key outcome for our workshop for survivors was confidence.  We had survivors self-assess how ready they are for future disasters on a scale from 1 to 10.  At the start of the workshop, survivors rated themselves no higher than 3.  At the end of the workshop, they rated themselves no lower than 7.  

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